Red Bank police shorthanded

Red Bank police shorthanded

January 18th, 2011 by Chris Carroll in News

In response to recent turnover, Red Bank Police Chief Tim Christol said he'll be forced to assign detectives and investigators to patrol city streets.

"We have to adapt right now with all the things going on," Christol said. "Everything's been up in the air."

Officer Steven Meador, 25, submitted a two-sentence resignation letter to city officials last week, citing "an opportunity I cannot pass up" and becoming the fourth officer to leave the department since early December.

Officer Stoney Morton resigned Dec. 6, electing to train police officers in Afghanistan for DynCorp International, a private security company.

And on Dec. 17, City Manager Chris Dorsey fired Cpl. Rebecca Chauncey after she supervised three residential searches without warrants, consent or life-or-death circumstances, as required by federal law. Dorsey suspended two others in connection with the incident, including Officer Bradley Hanon, who resigned last week.

About a month ago, Chauncey, Hanon, Meador and Morton made up more than a quarter of Red Bank's 14 patrol officers. Morton and Chauncey have already left, while Hanon and Meador are completing their terms this week.

While the city plans to fill all the positions, only one officer has been hired so far.

Christol said detectives will suit up and patrol Red Bank on an "as-needed basis," raising the question of what happens if extensive crime occurs within city limits before vacancies are filled.

Red Bank has mutual aid agreements with the Chattanooga Police Department and the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, and Christol said he's asked both agencies to assist with any "major event."

"Police don't really care where jurisdictional lines are," Christol said. "They work to help people, and that's our core responsibility."

Several officers have worked overtime to cover open shifts, and Christol said he'd like to avoid having "a tired officer who's been on the beat for seven straight days -- you have to decompress."

Today, Lt. Jay LaMance -- the agency's second-in-command -- will work a patrol shift instead of performing his usual administrative duties, according to city records.

A Red Bank police officer since October 2009, Meador said he achieved a lifetime goal when the Chattanooga Police Department hired him.

"You're going to have your run-ins, you're going to have your problems, but I never looked for a way out of Red Bank," he said.

Contact Chris Carroll at ccarroll@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6610.